Brand positioning: knowledge isn’t always power

I think it was Francis Bacon who coined the phrase knowledge is power but for brand positioning, that doesn’t always hold true.  I shared with a new client only this week that as a marketing director or brand marketing consultant, it’s often been my lack of industry knowledge that’s led directly to my success.

Over the 25 years of my marketing and brand positioning career to date, I’ve worked with a London orchestra; B2B databases for small businesses; the Chelsea Flower Show; credit referencing and debt collection solutions for Banks, TelCos and Government; local and digital advertising for plumbers, hairdressers or web designers; and a professional development community for C-Level supply chain executives.  An eclectic mix when you write it all down….

In every instance, my role has involved clarifying their value proposition and then aligning their marketing (internal and external) behind that.  Not knowing much about their areas of expertise has always given me the freedom to ask questions that simplify.  Precisely because I couldn’t dissect the algorithm behind a credit score or build an S&OP model, I had to ask basic questions to understand and distil what they did into plain English.  And find their ‘why’.

Which is what a good value proposition does.  Of course, having that knowledge has given me power as a marketer and enabled me to have such a fun and successful brand positioning career in some fascinating industries.

As a child I was definitely curious and inquisitive (some might say I was a bit nosey?!).  I also liked to organise and align things (the same some might have used the term obsessive compulsive once or twice!).  It turns out to have been the perfect knowledge combination for a career in brand positioning.

So, next time you’re faced with the unknown or overly complex, remember that there’s more power and perspective in that position than you might first think.